While many students embark on their study abroad experiences with the intention of finding part-time work abroad, this is something that requires a bit of research and effort, especially when looking for paid positions. I can’t speak for every city/country, but finding work in Sydney, Australia proved to be tough, and navigating immigration requirements was quite meticulous in the beginning.
When I arrived in Sydney, I wanted to let school begin and get the hang of my uni schedule and workload before finding a job. Once I did this, I was quite ready to work and save up for some extra travel. While my search was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I still picked up some useful advice for once I restarted my search and found my first job position.
Step 1: Learn the Law & Follow It
- Before starting your search, make sure you are aware of your country’s laws including, but not limited to, visa restrictions/hour restrictions, minimum wage, income thresholds, tax payments, and social security/superannuation/public benefits requirements.
- As an example, on a student visa in Australia, students are limited to a maximum of 40 paid working hours per fortnight while school is in session, and 40 hours per week during school holidays. Students are also not allowed to start working until their school session begins which validates their visa with working rights. This was something I absolutely needed to know before signing on for a role that required more hours than I could legally work or started a job before my commencement date. Furthermore, you may find minimum wage is much different abroad and can even vary by age and other factors, so you want to be sure you are being paid what you are entitled to for the work you are doing. You should also be careful about paying your tax contributions, any mandatory government assistance fees (which may be paid by your employer), and other things that will affect your right to work legally while abroad.
Step 2: Know Your Schedule & Your Needs
- When beginning your search, you should know what your work availability is, what your expenses are, and have a savings goal in mind. Consider school, social life, and travel first- it’s what you’re here for, right?! Be sure to leave enough room in your schedule to succeed in your courses, and budget plenty on time for the study-social life balance you need. Also be sure to take on enough work to meet your savings goals. If you need $500 for a trip at the end of your program, be sure to calculate the wages minus expenses necessary to meet that goal with enough time to book transportation, accommodation, food, and fun money. Make sure you budget within your means, and have some contingency cash put aside for last minute changes (Insert Link to Getting Back Out There- Travel Safeguards While Traveling ‘Post-COVID’), additional excursions, and emergencies.
Step 3: Start Your Search
- When looking for work abroad, be sure to consider safety measures such as location, access to reliable transportation to and from work, and with well-established or trusted employers to avoid any misunderstandings or trouble. Update your resume and take your qualifications (including language abilities, work experience, etc.) into account to get the best working conditions and pay for your experience. If you ever feel that a job posting or employer is sketchy, shady, dodgy, untrustworthy, or all of the above, do your research before taking any risks and protect yourself by saying no if you are still unsure or uncomfortable.
If working conditions in your host city are unfavourable, unsafe, or the job market is not suited to students, consider other sources of income such as additional scholarships, family support, a small student loan, or a credit card that you can pay off with domestic employment upon return to your home country.
Whether using employment or another source of income to meet your savings/travel goals, be sure not to overwhelm yourself. Remember why you are abroad- to study, embrace a new culture and its people/language, and to have fun! Best of luck. 🙂